Submitted by carhamp on
Some background on my organization:
I am a financial advisor. I work in an office of a regional firm with two FA teams and one solo practitioner. In total there are 3 admins and a receptionist that function as our support staff. Our branch manager leads one team and is responsible for our office. Our office structure is very loose. There is minimal top down communication. We do not have regular branch meetings and when we do they are largely a waste of time. I like our manager on one level because he leaves me alone, but it makes the office environment challenging.
I am on a team with one partner, two admins and an associate advisor. My partner and I generally discuss the decisions that affect our practice and make decisions together. We hold weekly team meetings and I have a weekly one on one with our junior advisor. My partner and I do quarterly reviews for both admins and the associate. At present, one admin and the receptionist do not report to me nor do any of the other advisors.
Right now, we have an issue that causes me to want to give feedback to someone that is not on my team (the receptionist). In this situation, is that out of line? I feel like if I bring the situation to our manager’s attention, he may want to let this employee go and we are already without one assistant because of an illness...
I would appreciate your advice!
Managing a small office
Before you go to the assistant’s boss, have you tried talking to the assistant directly about what they are doing? Perhaps the person is unaware of the distress they are causing and could really use the feedback, but it’s still undecided if the feedback model works for non-directs and will be discussed. Keep in mind that your issues are simply information for the direct. It’s not feedback because you cannot, by your relationship in the org, to institute a change by authority. You need to discuss issue with the direct and see if there is a solution can be found based on the information you presented.
If that is not successful and the behavior is having an impact on the organization, then you can go to the direct’s boss. If they follow MT’s “Receiving Feedback About Your Directs” podcast, then they will take the following steps:
1. Take notes (and ask if you discussed this with the direct)
2. Ask for behaviors and details
3. Explain the feedback model
4. Ask to share directly next time
5. Deliver feedback
Since you’re a manager and need to be efficient, you can quickly explain the behavior in question, state you have tried to resolve the issue directly, note that you both listen to MT (step 3 :) and that’s the end of your engagement with the manager. You walk away and let the process correct itself. Because you’ve done all the work of gathering the information and trying to resolve the issue on your own, the direct’s boss now has a really serious behavior on their hands: a member of his staff who is not a team player! It’s no longer about the original issue.
Again, I’m not sure the feedback model is the approach you want to take when you resolve an issue. Or at least be sensitive to the fact that they don’t have to answer to you and don’t try to get them to because then your sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. If the action is really impacting the organization and you’ve tried to immediately resolve the problem and due to a lack of cooperation by the direct, you’ve identified an even more serious problem, perhaps the root of the problem and now you have some significant information to deliver to their boss.
A similar podcast is in the works about giving feedback to peers. See